Densho Digital Archive
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre Collection
Title: Mitsu Ito Interview
Narrator: Mitsu Ito
Interviewer: Mary Ito
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: March 23, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-imitsu-01-0005

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Mary I: What about, you say there were a lot of other Japanese people who lived in Mission around you. Did you, did you associate a lot with other Japanese families?

Mitsu I: Oh yes, we did, yes. We went to school together, and every Sunday we went to Buddhist Church, but we all went together.

Mary I: The school that you went to, was it a public school for everyone, or did it cater mostly to the Japanese people?

Mitsu I: No, it was for everyone. It was Mission Public School, but they were mostly Japanese.

Mary I: And what language did you speak when you were at home with your parents?

Mitsu I: At home we spoke Japanese, but outside we spoke English.

Mary I: Did you go to Japanese school?

Mitsu I: Yes, we went to Japanese school every Saturday morning, about three, four hours Saturday morning.

Mary I: And what was that like, Japanese school? Who taught these classes?

Mitsu I: Mr. and Mrs. Kudo taught Japanese. I think we just went there just to have fun, because we were told, the parents told us to go, so we just went. I don't think we learned very much.

Mary I: What did you do when you were there?

Mitsu I: Learned Japanese writing and speaking Japanese.

Mary I: Yeah, that's what you were supposed to do, but what did you really do when you went? [Laughs]

Mitsu I: [Laughs] Just to have fun.

Mary I: Had a good time? So when, when did you first learn English?

Mitsu I: Well, when I went to public school, we just picked up English in school.

Mary I: Was it hard, was it difficult, not knowing English?

Mitsu I: No, no. No, it was, I didn't think it was hard.

Mary I: Where did you first go to school?

Mitsu I: At Mission.

Mary I: And what was the name of the school?

Mitsu I: Mission Public School.

Mary I: And what kind of teachers were at the school?

Mitsu I: They're all Canadian. They were very nice.

Mary I: No Japanese teachers?

Mitsu I: No, no.

Mary I: And what about the classrooms? Was it each grade had a separate teacher, or were you all put into one class?

Mitsu I: No, every, grade one to... had different teachers.

Mary I: How, what you remember about the experience, and what would you say about it? Was it a good experience, was it not a good experience, what did you think about going to school?

Mitsu I: I think it was good. We always had to go back home and pick strawberries. Farming was more important than school, I think, in those days.

Mary I: Is that right? So what was your day like?

Mitsu I: Oh, we went to school, and then when we come home, we go and pick strawberries 'til dark. And that's about it.

Mary I: What about homework?

Mitsu I: Yeah, we did some homework sometimes. [Laughs]

Mary I: And in the morning, did you have to get up really early?

Mitsu I: No, we all went to school together. I think the Inouyes came along, and then we went to Hinatsus, and we all went to school together.

Mary I: So did all the local Japanese children go to Mission Public School?

Mitsu I: Yes, we all went to Mission Public School.

Mary I: Did you have any favorite subjects in school?

Mitsu I: I think math was the best subject.

Mary I: And how long did you go to school?

Mitsu I: I went to grade ten, and then I went to work in a sawmill in Haney. Mr. Kodama was the supervisor there, and it was owned by a Japanese, Takemoto, Mr. Takemoto. He had a sawmill in Haney, and a logging camp. And most of the people that was working there were from Shiga-ken. And Mr. Kodama was there, only his boy wanted to go and work, so he asked me to come, so I went and worked in the sawmill.

Mary I: And what about your other brothers? Did they...

Mitsu I: No, they stayed home on the farm.

Mary I: Did they also leave school in grade ten, or when, how long did they stay in school?

Mitsu I: I think they went to about grade ten, too, I'm quite sure.

Mary I: Was that typical of the other Japanese children as well, or did they stay in school?

Mitsu I: No, no, some of them went on, finished school and they went to high school.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2005 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Densho. All Rights Reserved.